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Headlines

95 Air Force planes ‘beyond repair’

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A total of 95 air assets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) can no longer be used, outnumbering the aircraft still in operation.

Air Force Vice Commander Maj. Gen. Raul Dimatatac said out of the 265 air assets they have, 95 are “beyond economic repair” while 71 are operational.

The rest are recoverable or serviceable, which means that they have to undergo repairs to be of use.

Air assets that are beyond repair will be sold for scrap through bidding. For aircraft provided by other countries, the Air Force has to secure the approval of the donor before they are disposed of.

Dimatatac said they need to have at least 370 air assets but for now, they only have 265, including those that are beyond repair.

If the 95 aircraft that can no longer fly are to be excluded, the Air Force is left with just 170 air assets.

“We have a gap of 200 (air assets) and out of that 200, 21 are helicopters. We are addressing this,” Dimatatac said.

The government is now fast-tracking the upgrade program of the military, which is said to be one of the weakest in the region.

The government plans to acquire 21 UH-1 combat utility helicopters, 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets, close air support aircraft and radar systems to boost the capabilities of the Air Force.

The defense department held the third bidding for the P1.26-billion UH-1 helicopter acquisition project last Friday but it was declared a failure. The lone bidder, the joint venture between Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd., had some deficiencies in documentary requirements.

The first and second bidding, which were held last December and February, respectively, also failed after the bidders did not satisfy some requirements.

The UH-1 helicopters or Hueys are expected to provide the much-needed air mobility to troops involved in internal security operations.

With regard the lead-in fighter trainer jets, the defense department is still awaiting the sales agreement to be issued by Malacañang.

The government plans to spend P18.9 billion to acquire the jets, which will be used for territorial defense. The government will purchase the jets through negotiations with South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries.

The other assets to be acquired for the Air Force are in various stages of procurement.

Last December, President Aquino signed a new Armed Forces modernization law that allotted P75 billion for the first five years of upgrade program. The law effectively extended the modernization program enacted in 1995.

The old AFP Modernization Act, which took effect on Feb. 23, 1995, gave the military the opportunity to modernize in 15 years with a total fund of P331 billion.

The program, however, has been stalled due to lack of funds. Defense department data showed that only about P30 billion had been disbursed under the old law.

AIR

AIR FORCE

AIR FORCE VICE COMMANDER MAJ

ARMED FORCES

ASSETS

DECEMBER AND FEBRUARY

DIMATATAC

EAGLE COPTERS LTD

KOREA AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES

LAST DECEMBER

MODERNIZATION ACT

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